Updated June 2, 2020
Due to COVID related restrictions, over the past couple of weeks Kingfisher cancelled all reservations made by our international guests plus all reservations on our more remote Haida Gwaii and Great Bear Rainforest Expeditions.
As part of the BC Restart Plan, Kingfisher owner, Andrew Jones, has been working with a number of different kayak operators and other adventure tourism operators to develop COVID related best practices and procedure to operate tours this summer. Guidance on these practices and procedures is taken for WorkSafeBC.
While developing Kingfisher’s own best practices and procedures it has become apparent that all of our explorer tours are not practical to run this year and our base camp tours will need to be re-designed.
In light of this, for the 2020 season Kingfisher is limiting our trips to:
- Base Camp trips only
- First tour starts July 14, 2020*
- Private groups of “social-bubbles” only – close friends and family
- Maximum group size of six
- Only welcoming guests who have not been out of Canada for the 14 days prior to the trip (other basic COVID screening questions are being developed). This could change based on the advice of the Public Health Officer.
*The above dates could change based on directions provided by the Provincial government and Public Health Officer
Kingfisher has two base camps, both on Hanson Island in Johnstone Strait. Each camp is set up for the season with six canvas walled tents with two beds per tent – beds can be pushed together to form a queen sized bed. Some of the changes this season include:
- We are alternating the use of three of our six tents at each camp from one trip to the next. This allows the other three tents to sit empty for a minimum of 72 hours between trips.
- Double occupancy tents only for groups of six. For groups of four or five, single occupancy tents are possible as long as the total number of tents used by the group is no greater than three.
- We will be eliminating our self serve coffee and tea bar in favour of drinks being served by our staff
- We will be eliminating serving our meals “family style” in favour of all meals being plated by our staff
We normally provide all bedding and sleeping bags on our tours. This season we are changing this to:
- Requesting guests to bring their own sleeping bags and pillows – we will still provide freshly laundered sleeping bags and pillows for those who request it
- Kingfisher still provides sheets, pillow cases, and fleece blankets
Kingfisher normally runs our base camp tours with a maximum of ten guests and three guides / staff. This season we are changing this to:
- Maximum group of six guests. Minimum group of four guests
- Three guides / staff for groups of five or six
- Two guides / staff for groups of four or less
- All guests must be close friends or family so social distancing between guests is not required
Kingfisher normally uses a mixed fleet of single and double kayaks for our guests on our tours. This season we are changing this to:
- All double kayaks for guest use. This minimizes the chances of capsizes and protects our guides from unnecessary close contact if a capsize recovery was needed.
- Guides will be in single kayaks. If there are only five guests on the trip, one of the guides will be in in the rear cockpit of a double kayak with a guest in the front.
- Guests to remain in the same kayak and use the same gear for the duration of the trip.
We have made an adjustment to our cancellation policy for our 2020 tour to include:
- If either Kingfisher or guests need to cancel for COVID illness or precautions then the full amount paid is refundable. Guests may need to provide medical documentation that the cancellation is due to COVID illness or precautions versus other reasons to receive refund. If cancelling for anything other than COVID our regular cancellation policy applies.
The above are the most visible changes to our tours, but there are more less visible changes being implemented as well:
- Additional guide and staff training to ensure best practices are implemented and adhered to
- Developing guide and staff “working groups” and more stringent job descriptions to minimize the number of touch points for gear, supplies, food, and guests.
- Staff and guests to wear masks when 2 metre separation is not possible, like when travelling via company vehicles or water taxi
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures at camp and in town
- Working with our water taxi partner to clean the boat between groups
- Additional personal protective gear for guides and staff
- Additional contingency plans and procedures for illness on trips and the possible need to quarantine guides, staff, or guests